Arts and Entertainment

The idea of The Great American Novel feels like an albatross around the neck of that country’s literature. Sooner or later every white middle-class male writer with any kind of reputation feels obliged to have a stab at it, usually with limited success. Eventually they think it’s time to pack away all the fun stuff like storytelling, energy and plot, and make some big state-of-the-nation address, telling people exactly how things stand in the good ol’ US of A. Interestingly, America’s women writers don’t tend to feel the obligation to grandstand so strongly, and their novels are usually all the better for that.

First gay couple wed in France amid tight security after controversial new legislation sparked violent protests

Vincent Austin and Bruno Boileau tie the knot in historic wedding in Montpellier

Why is it that Europe stigmatises modern Hungary?

There have been eruptions of racial hatred in France and the Netherlands without the same questioning of their fundamental democracy, says Hungary's Deputy Prime Minister

Peter Sunde

Career change: Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde to stand in European Parliament elections

A co-founder of Pirate Bay has decided to make a radical career change and stand in the 2014 European Parliament elections in Finland.

German neo-Nazi accused of ‘vile’ murders of nine immigrant shopkeepers and a policewoman

As the trial resumed of the sole surviving alleged member of a gang of neo-Nazi killers, Beate Zschäpe was accused of complicity in the murders of nine immigrant shopkeepers and a policewoman.

Tens of thousands of supporters of leftist parties marched through central Paris to express disappointment with President Francois Hollande’s first year in power

Thousands of leftist supporters march through Paris in protest over Hollande's first year

Tens of thousands of supporters of leftist parties marched through central Paris today to express disappointment with President Francois Hollande’s first year in power, criticizing the leader for reneging on his promises to rein in the world of finance and enact economic stimulus.

NF founder Jean-Marie Le Pen leads a Paris May Day rally

France takes to the streets as disaffected voters turn to far-right

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of France in traditional May Day rallies marked by calls for an end to President François Hollande’s austerity policies, which many blamed for record numbers of jobless.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault warns government against using English language

Ayrault asks his ministers to stop using English words in their work

Anti-gay marriage protesters in Paris on Tuesday night

Church versus Republic: Disturbing gay marriage protests stir old demons in France

World Focus: Success of the the demonstrations has been built on right-wing fury

Clashes between protesters and riot police in France after gay marriage law clears last hurdle

Relief in Parliament contrasts with ugly street battles as right-wing protest turns violent

A pro gay marriage militant is arrested by anti-riot police officers during a demonstration by supporters of the anti-gay marriage movement 'La Manif Pour Tous' (Demonstration for all!) in Nantes, western France. The final vote on France's landmark bill allowing gay marriage has been fast-tracked to next week and has proved hugely controversial in a country that is officially secular but predominantly Catholic (AFP)

French politicians scuffle over same-sex marriage legislation

Scuffles broke out in the French parliament in the early hours of as right-wing opposition to a gay marriage law becomes increasingly strident and ill-tempered.

Nicolas Maduro gives a victory speech in Caracas early yesterday

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles refuses to throw in towel after narrow presidential poll defeat to Nicolas Maduro

Opposition leader calls for recount ‘of every vote’ in Venezuela’s disputed presidential election

A coffin is carried up the steps of St Paul's Cathedral during a rehearsal for the funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher funeral: Demonstrators 'given go-ahead' to turn backs on coffin during procession as guerilla protest plans gather pace

Nearly 300 protesters sign-up to turn backs on former Prime Minister's coffin during procession

Hugo Chavez's successor Nicolas Maduro wins Venezuela election in highly contested result

Voters narrowly elected Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor as president today, in a razor-close election.

Donald MacInnes: I’m possibly better at one-to-one stuff

Tales from the Water Cooler

Gallery: How the front pages covered Margaret Thatcher's death

The front pages of all UK national newspapers this morning led with yesterday's news of the death of former prime minister Baroness Thatcher.

Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
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Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary